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It’s Dangerous to Be a Superhero with the LAPD Around

You know something surreal is happening when this is the first sentence of a CNN report:

Hollywood’s superhero community buzzed after Batman’s arrest Wednesday, just days after Spiderman, Cat Woman and at least a dozen others were taken into custody by Los Angeles police.

While those arrested may not have any superpowers, they do have the costumes, and they’re more than willing to pose for a photo with you or your kids. Tips welcome, but not required.

Yes, the LAPD is cracking down on these superhero impersonators on Hollywood Boulevard, particularly outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The relevant charges include pressuring tourists for money, which all the performers made very clear they don’t do, and loitering.

Loitering law is a tricky business. California’s loitering laws were principally enacted to stop drug dealers and prostitutes. And according to the California Penal Code, what these costumed entertainers do is not a crime, provided their statements on not pressuring tourists for money are accurate.

There are two forms of loitering in the Penal Code: ” It is unlawful to enter or remain upon any posted property without the written permission of the owner, tenant, or occupant in legal possession or control thereof,” and “It is unlawful to loiter in the immediate vicinity of any posted property.” Basically, you can’t be on it or near it for too long without permission. But what kinds of property can be “posted”? According to the Penal Code, gas plants and other utility stations, reservoirs and other water utility stations, facilities used for any broadcasting service, munitions manufacturers, railroads, sewage plants, and quarries. Ah yes, the famed quarries of Hollywood Boulevard. It all makes sense now.

Besides the fact that these arrests don’t seem quite legal, unless broadcasting companies are responsible (the police declined to comment to CNN on the crackdown, so we don’t really know), there are some other more light-hearted oddities to this story. First of all, Donald Duck is not a superhero. Sorry that-one-guy-at-CNN who idolized him growing up. Also, apparently someone actually dressed up as the Transformer … wait for it … Bumblebee. Yes, of all the robots in disguise in all the world, someone chose that one. Though with his prominence in the first film, it kinda makes sense. But only kinda.

Needless to say, the performers are pissed, especially Hulk impersonator Joe McQueen:

“I didn’t break no law,” McQueen said. “As far as a loitering charge is concerned, this is a public street. That’s un-American.”

“I feel like we’re being bullied, dude.”

Others are taking a real stand:

Batman impersonator Tony Tomey was not bowed. He showed up Wednesday afternoon “to make a statement so people can see that this is unfair,” McQueen said.

Within minutes, an LAPD squad car pulled up in front of the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and Tomey was handcuffed and taken to jail. He was still locked up in the Parker Center Jail Thursday morning, according to LAPD records.

The performers allege that street cops have told them the orders from the crackdown come “from upstairs.” Presuming they don’t mean God or Morgan Freeman, the identity of these mysterious attic-dwellers remains unknown.

Disclaimer: The image above is from a 2009 assault arrest, not the 2010 crackdown.

(Via CNN, image via Brisbane Times)

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